“I’m Just Saying” is a column by Suburbs 101 Contributor, Alexis Gold. A funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in New York City/turned unexpected stay at home suburban mom. This month, Alexis reveals to us that she is a Halloween Grinch.
I hate Halloween. I buy boatloads of candy to pass out to neighborhood kids. My kids collect similarly sized boatloads of candy. The next day, I send it all to school for their candy drive. I could just buy candy, dump it in my kids bags and then drive it to school. Alternatively, we could just skip the whole thing. This seems like the healthier, more efficient and less expensive option.
When I was a kid, Halloween spanned from 6pm to 10pm on the last day of October. Today Halloween is on steroids. In my town, Halloween starts somewhere between October 7th and 10th. Giant spiders and bats, witches in trees, and the more subdued mums and gourds start showing up everywhere. If I’m feeling generous, I will buy some of the spiderwebby stuff that sticks to your boxwoods after the first hint of rain. This is followed by my request to one of my children to clean it up. Otherwise, “there won’t BE any decorations next year.” This order goes over as well as it does when I ask them to take out the dog in the morning.
Decoration Season is followed by Boo Season. If you are unfamiliar with this newfangled, holiday-extending tradition, cute bags of candy, slime, and fidgets show up on your doorstep from an unknown Boo-er. It’s ring and run, with an over-processed, sugary prize.
Once you are Booed, you are meant to pay it forward to three more unsuspecting friends. The Booed put a sign on their door to indicate they’ve been Booed. This way, the Booing continues to virgin Boo Houses. In the ers of overachievement, we skipped right over three and delivered no less than ten. I think many of us also skip the sign on the door part. A way to collect more candy that we don’t need.
Parade Season comes next. We have two: school and town. The school parade is pretty straightforward – wear a costume over your clothes and don’t make it complicated for the teachers. Otherwise, risk losing the school parade for generations to come.
The town parade, is the Friday before Halloween. Once every seven years you hit the jackpot and the town parade is actually on Halloween. Otherwise, you get to do this again a few days later. Speaking of the Friday before Halloween, I have a suggestion that I’ll use as my Halloween Grinch election platform. Let’s move Halloween to the last Friday of October. I do realize this takes away any intended religious significance to the date. October 31 can remain the official holiday and the Friday before could be “Halloween Observed”. Sort of like Presidents Day. It solves for the Halloween equivalent of the Sunday Scaries. It also gives us a built-in rain date.
The town parade brings more fanfare and costume stress. And it doesn’t end with the parade…it extends into trick or treating at the local storefronts. It is the energizer bunny of parades. Families come dressed in elaborately themed costumes and there I am with my Fortnite burger head on with my old leggings. This means I need to deal with both post-quarantine social anxiety and costumes.
Costumes are the most recognizable holiday extender. My children typically begins discussing costumes on November 1, as I am packing up their haul for the candy drive. The excitement for the upcoming Halloween dovetails perfectly with the end of the prior. The conversation wanes as the year continues, and picks up right around back to school when it’s not busy at all. My decisive crew typically makes their final choice by mid-September – only to change them six more times before the first parade. This year did let me educate them on current events. I got to explain how the LA ports work. First choice became last choice. So, our pug’s costume will arrive November 5. I’m sure we’ll have four more arrive before October 31, 2022 when the supply chain issues ease (fingers crossed).
My oldest daughter just started middle school. With a middle school girl comes the “group costume”. I was not prepared for this. Not only do you have to spend the first month of middle school figuring out where to sit for lunch, but you need to make 15 new best friends before October in order to participate in this seemingly stressful tradition. The girls all seem fine and work it out. I can even begrudgingly admit it might be sort of cute. Especially since she is channeling her inner six-year old and wearing an animal onesie. For me, it just sparks my own middle school PTSD. My third graders are easier – a blow up penguin and a gymnast.
I know I have proclaimed myself the Halloween Grinch. But, the Grinch does come around to love Christmas. So, in my good faith effort to maintain the spirit of the original, I have tried to come up with a list of Halloween positives:
1. Costume ROI: While candy may come with a negative return, costume usage is high in the burbs. A minimum of three wears between the parades and Halloween night. If you throw in a couple parties your wear per use declines drastically. With my daughter BEING a gymnast and going as a gymnast I think we hit the jackpot here this year.
2. Halloween Wagon Night: When we lived in Manhattan, we primarily went trick or treating in our building. In the suburbs people are out and about pulling wagons filled with various drink options. Reinforcing my suggestion to move Halloween to Friday.
3. Kids: My kids love it. My younger daughter heard me on the phone complaining about Halloween and said, “you hate Halloween? That’s sad.” I don’t actually think it’s sad. While it may make me a terrible parent, it doesn’t make me sad. But, I do appreciate how much they love it, and even I, want to extend some of the kid traditions for as long as we can. Especially as we try to emerge from a time when we could celebrate so little.
When my daughter was younger and I was already Grinch-y she wanted one of those overpriced costumes from Chasing Fireflies – a good witch. You know, the one where everything goes on sale on Black Friday. Each piece is sold separately – the broom, the hat, the jewelry. A good friend said, “Just do it. She won’t want it for long.” So, I did. My friend was right on one point. The joy was palpable. And she wore it for three years. So, she did want it for long. I got my money’s worth.
Happy Halloween. I have a good friend whose birthday is on Halloween. I hope you’ll still invite me to your party. I may be the self-proclaimed Halloween Grinch, but I still like to be included. And, that’s a topic for another essay.
About Alexis Gold
Alexis Gold holds a BS from Cornell University. She spent more than two decades on Wall Street, where she was a top ranked analyst by Institutional Investor. While on the buy side her creative writing was used to analyze companies, primarily in the retail space. Following the recent closing of her last fund, she decided to stay at home with her three small children. Her writing has been featured in Read650 and offers a funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in NYC/turned unexpected stay at home suburban mom.
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About Suburbs 101
Suburbs 101 is an online lifestyle guide for the New York Suburbs of Westchester County, Long Island, Fairfield County and Northern New Jersey. Get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live in the New York suburbs through our interviews with local suburbanites and features on Food, Fashion, Home, Travel, and Local Events. Be sure to Follow Us on Instagram, Like Us on Facebook, follow Suburbs 101 on Twitter and subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter.